There is a water oak tree in my yard, which is a member of the red oak family. There seems to be some sort of insect burrowing holes into the tree at the darkest spot. Tannins are being washed down the bark from the wound--possibly rotting the bark. What sort of insect does this? There was no previous wound as far as I know. I just noticed it for the first time today.

I live in South Carolina. I've seen things that look like this in the region but never anywhere near my property.

enter image description here

I have done some research into red oak boring insects.

http://www.treehelp.com/about-tree-insects/----Reccomends injecting, spraying, and soil soaking with various insecticides.

http://homeguides.sfgate.com/pests-red-oak-trees-42540.html---Recommend covering the tree in clear plastic sheeting.

Oak Borers---Recommends Imidacloprid insecticide.

  • What part of the world are you in? When did you first notice this problem? And is this the only area on the tree displaying this symptom, or are there other areas?
    – Bamboo
    Aug 6, 2016 at 15:08
  • This is probably something you've already done, but I'm asking just in case. Have you looked closely on the tree or on the ground at the base and found anything insect-looking? There are a lot of crevices that could hide critters and if you catch a glimpse it would help with identification! Aug 6, 2016 at 17:41
  • @Bamboo I am in South Carolina. I first noticed this problem today. I have seen this in the region but never near my property.
    – Dale
    Aug 6, 2016 at 17:47
  • @Sue I will continue to monitor it for signs of the perpetrators.
    – Dale
    Aug 6, 2016 at 17:51
  • 1
    @WayfaringStranger the crease in the tree that you are referencing has formed in the last five years---have seen this tree for 15 years and it is definately a single shoot.
    – Dale
    Aug 7, 2016 at 14:16

1 Answer 1


The symptoms shown in your photograph indicate bleeding canker - what I'm not sure of is whether Sudden Oak Death is an issue in your area, so far as I can tell, its a major problem in California but not where you are (yet). Sudden Oak Death is caused by infection with Phytophthera ramorum, but I'd expect some symptoms on the foliage too with that particular cause, so maybe die back of leaves or branches.

Bleeding cankers have various causes; it sometimes sets in after damage to the tree, and once it starts bleeding like this, there's usually some bacterial and/or fungal contributory factor. Regular monitoring of the tree is a good idea so that if it gets to the point where it's in danger of falling, you're aware before it happens. It may be that the heartwood of the tree is infected and this has caused erosion in the cambium layers and a hole has opened up. You probably should call an Arborist to inspect the tree.

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